Lesson 5: The Conditions of Mortality

The Eternal Family Teacher Manual, 2015


Introduction

In the premortal world we “accepted [Heavenly Father’s] plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). Our mortal bodies are a great blessing; however, they are subject to many of Satan’s temptations. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can overcome these temptations and return to our Heavenly Father.

Background Reading

  • David A. Bednar, “Things as They Really Are,” Ensign, June 2010, 16–25.

  • David A. Bednar, “The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality,” Ensign, Apr. 2012, 40–47.

Suggestions for Teaching

2 Nephi 2:27–29; Abraham 3:25

Our mortal experience is essential for eternal life

Display the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and invite a student to read it aloud:

Elder David A. Bednar

“Have we ever really considered why having a physical body is so important? … Do we really understand why a body is so central to the Father’s plan of happiness? Do we perhaps recite this answer so frequently and routinely that we fail to recognize its true importance? I would like for us to dig a bit deeper into this eternally important question about why a body is so important. Ultimately the answer affects everything we do” (“Ye Are the Temple of God,” Ensign, Sept. 2001, 14).

  • According to Elder Bednar, why should we seek to understand why our physical bodies are so important?

Invite students to write a response to the following question. As the lesson progresses, encourage them to write additional thoughts and ideas.

  • Why are our physical bodies so important in Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness?

Invite students to silently read the third paragraph of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” and look for the statement that clarifies why a physical body is necessary to our eternal progression.

Ask a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar. Ask class members to listen for why our bodies are so crucial in Heavenly Father’s plan. Consider giving each student a copy of this statement before it is read.

Elder David A. Bednar

“Our physical bodies make possible a breadth, a depth, and an intensity of experience that simply could not be obtained in our premortal estate. President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has taught, ‘Our spirit and our body are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character’ [“The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character” (Brigham Young University fireside address, Feb. 2, 2003), speeches.byu.edu]. Thus, our relationships with other people, our capacity to recognize and act in accordance with truth, and our ability to obey the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are amplified through our physical bodies. In the classroom of mortality, we experience tenderness, love, kindness, happiness, sorrow, disappointment, pain, and even the challenges of physical limitations in ways that prepare us for eternity. Simply stated, there are lessons we must learn and experiences we must have, as the scriptures describe, ‘according to the flesh’ (1 Nephi 19:6; Alma 7:12–13)” (“Things as They Really Are,” Ensign, June 2010, 16).

  • What did Elder Bednar teach about why a physical body is necessary for our eternal progression? (Though answers may vary, emphasize this truth: With a physical body, we experience conditions of mortality that can prepare us for eternity.)

  • In what ways are our bodies “an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character”?

  • How is “our ability to obey the principles and ordinances of the gospel … amplified through our physical bodies”? (Possible answers include the following: A body enables us to obey the command to multiply and replenish the earth. A body allows us to experience the joys of living in families, where we learn and practice gospel principles in the home—for instance, we learn how to control our tempers within our families.)

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Abraham 3:25 and 2 Nephi 2:27–29 as the class looks for how these scripture passages work together to help us further understand the purposes of having a body.

  • Though having a body is a great blessing, how is having a body part of our mortal test? (Many of Satan’s temptations are amplified because we have bodies.)

  • How does choosing the “will of the flesh” give the devil “power to captivate”?

Mosiah 3:19; Moses 6:49, 53–55

“The natural man is an enemy to God”

Invite a student to read Moses 6:53–54 aloud, and ask the class to look for and then explain what these verses teach about our condition at the time of our birth. Note that the word “whole” in this context means free from the effects of Adam’s transgression.

Then ask the student to read Moses 6:49 and 55, and ask class members:

  • What do these verses teach about how the Fall of Adam and Eve affects us throughout our mortal lives? (When we yield to Satan’s temptations we taste the bitter consequences of our choices to be carnal, sensual, and devilish. You might refer to Ether 3:2, which teaches that “because of the fall our natures have become evil continually.”)

Ask a student to read aloud the first few lines of Mosiah 3:19. Write the following questions on the board:

What is the natural man?

Why is the natural man an enemy to God?

Give students a few minutes to search for answers to these questions and to expand their understanding of the term “natural man” by studying the footnotes for verse 19 (particularly footnote a as well as other passages referred to in the footnotes). After sufficient time, discuss students’ findings. Point out that this term describes a condition that applies equally to both men and women.

  • If a person has the characteristics of a natural man, what effect could this have on a marriage or a family?

Ask the same student to finish reading Mosiah 3:19, and invite the class to look for a principle about how we can overcome the natural man. (As students respond, write this principle on the board: Through accepting the Atonement of Jesus Christ and yielding to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, we can put off the natural man and become a saint.)

Explain that in this context, to yield means to submit or surrender to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

  • How can a person discern what the Holy Spirit is prompting him or her to do?

  • Can you share an experience that is not too personal in which the Holy Spirit prompted you to put off the natural man?

Testify that as we yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, we gain access to the power of the Atonement.

Mosiah 3:19; 16:3–6

Applying the Atonement of Christ

Invite a student to read Mosiah 16:3–6 aloud as the class follows along, looking for what will help us overcome the effects of the Fall in our lives.

  • What provision in Heavenly Father’s plan enables us to overcome our fallen nature? (Write the following doctrine on the board: Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be redeemed from our lost and fallen condition.)

Display the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar, and ask a student to read it aloud:

Elder David A. Bednar

“Every appetite, desire, propensity, and impulse of the natural man may be overcome by and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We are here on the earth to develop godlike qualities and to bridle all of the passions of the flesh” (“We Believe in Being Chaste,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 43).

Explain to students that when we have faith in the Atonement, we receive the grace of Jesus Christ, made possible by His atoning sacrifice. The main idea of the word grace is “divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.” It is an “enabling power” that helps us to repent and to develop attributes that we cannot develop on our own (see Bible Dictionary, “Grace”). To help students identify Christlike attributes that we should develop, ask them to review the list of qualities that lead us to become saints, as found in Mosiah 3:19.

  • How has the Savior helped you to develop one of the attributes listed in Mosiah 3:19?

  • How have you seen individuals who possess one or more of these attributes be a blessing in their families?

  • How might developing one or more of these attributes through the enabling power of the Savior’s grace help you to become a better husband or wife, father or mother?

Explain to students that each of us is left with an important question to answer as a result of today’s lesson. Display the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar and ask students to read it silently:

Elder David A. Bednar

“The precise nature of the test of mortality, then, can be summarized in the following question: Will I respond to the inclinations of the natural man, or will I yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man and become a saint through the Atonement of Christ the Lord (see Mosiah 3:19)? That is the test” (“We Believe in Being Chaste,” 43).

Give students a few minutes to write a response to Elder Bednar’s question. Invite them to ponder the Christlike attributes found in Mosiah 3:19 and make a plan to begin developing one of those attributes more fully.

Student Readings